Thursday, March 29, 2012

ISO...Compassion...And For Pete's Sake, Sound Judgment

Man. Is my thinking way off the grid.

I swear there is less compassion in the world every day.

Or am I just the odd man out? Maybe I'm TOO compassionate?

Is that possible? To care too much?

I posted yesterday about some things in the news. One of them was a middle school student with epilepsy who was stomped on--on his head and other parts of his body--repeatedly by an "ex best friend."

The reason? The boy with epilepsy apparently [so it's been heard through other sources--not sure how credible] was heard saying he beat his friend in a wrestling match.

That's it. He was talking trash.

And the beating that resulted (and some are actually justifying) is this:

Click HERE for a video clip of the news piece along with cell phone video of the beating. Careful, it's not meant for little eyes.

And click HERE for the other boy's side.

Someone actually commented that we should be careful what we 'ask for' and that the boy who was beaten "pushed the other boy to his limit."


Where does that end? What's the line? What if someone is unstable or just plain having a bad day and his limit is [what he perceives to be] a dirty look?

If you watched the clip, you know that the "best friend" was well aware that one blow to the head could be fatal to this boy. So there was not one but many, many repeated blows to his head. Jumping into the air and using all of his weight.

I'm not sure how someone can say that and use that line of reasoning, but then quickly follow up with "but I'm not saying it was right..."

Um...yes you are.

And it's because of THAT kind of mentality that our "kids" don't think about the repercussions to their actions. Or--more frighteningly--don't care about the repercussions to their actions.

Please tell me you're also outraged by that video. By other things in this world where we make excuses for people being cruel.

Truthfully, does it matter what this boy SAID about the other boy? Are we going to equate hurtful or angry words with a near fatal beating that was cheered on by others? And videoed?

Was this boy running his mouth and stirring up trouble? No clue. Don't care. Doesn't matter.

If we follow this slippery slope of reasoning, there will be no governing what someone's "limit" is and what is justifiable. The next thing you know I'll be slugging it out with the idiot who cut me off in traffic or breaking a beer bottle over someone's head simply because they pushed me to my "limit."

And do you know how many times a day that could happen? My limit is pretty low. Some days, especially now with all these hormones, my limit can be breached just by chewing too loudly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What Does Your Fruit Say About You?

This post is born out of several events in the news within the past few weeks.

*The school shootings in Chardon, Ohio
*Student arrested in the Pittsburgh, PA area for making terroristic threats at the high school
*The man who walked into a court house in Texas and started shooting people.
*A student in Ohio with Epilepsy who was stomped on while on the basketball court because he was "antagonistic" and "liked to start fights." One blow to the head could be fatal for this 8th grader. The other students watching the event were chanting "Kill him! Stomp on his head!"
*Trayvon. Need I say more?

There are so many more that I didn't list and don't even know about.

It makes me sick. It makes me want to pack up my family and go live in some remote part of the world where no one will bother us and I don't have to worry that I will send my kids to school one day only to find out they were beaten, shot or stabbed to death. Or sexually assaulted by a teacher. Or a classmate.

I'm tired of it.

For all the herculean leaps we have taken as far as technology and medicine, we are light years away from where we used to be as far as public decorum and morality (IMHO).

Now, I know I am an exception as far as my worry meter on a daily basis, but there is relevance to my fear of sending my kids off to school for 8 hours a day.  Countless people have access to them and their impressionable minds...people I have never met and know nothing about. How many kids are being treated horribly at home and pass that along to my kids? How many adults with their world views that are so far outside of my own, yet who have free, unfettered access to MY kids with a mission to make them more "well-rounded"?

What have we become as a society that our values, politics, and beliefs revolve around who has the most money and the party we least want to offend? Where has our value of human life gone?

No, not everyone is salt of the earth. Not everyone is a quality human being (or even considered a human being!) That doesn't mean it should be deemed appropriate to squash their rights.

I'm angry.

I'm angry at the world I feel like I'm leaving my kids. A world they will either have to toil and kill themselves to clean up or live with in the mire.

I'm angry at myself for caving on too many issues, of keeping quiet, of burying my head in the sand and selling out (and thus selling out my kids??) for the sake of not making waves.

This goes beyond politics, right wing, left wing, democrat, republican, tea party. This is a human issue.

We can dress it up all we want and call it "political" but it's really far deeper and more important than that. We can tie a bow on it and try to remain "calm" and "un-passionate" about these issues if that helps us sleep better at night, but I'm tired of doing that. I am anything BUT un-passionate about my family. (Note: I believe there is a difference between 'passionate' and 'hot-headed')

I don't want to be the intellectual who talks myself into believing certain things are okay and that others aren't simply because it's "political." Or the "deep thinker" who talks himself out of Heaven by following the world's highways and what makes sense in Washington.

If you disagree, it's not my goal to sit here and talk you to death-as some seem to think is reasonable when you disagree with them. These are my thoughts and convictions. If you are feeling the same way, but--like me--too afraid for whatever reason to stand up and clearly proclaim what you believe, then maybe you won't feel so afraid if you know others feel the same way.

It's scary to stand alone. Or to feel like you do.

It's also scary to watch the news every night and hear story after story of kids being bullied and killed by other kids, their parents, strangers, friends... To watch minute after minute of people being arrested for every imaginable crime under the sun.

And I think the days are gone when we think we can live within our own 4 walls and not be touched by it. No way. This is here. It's in our front yard. The battle line has been brought to us. Maybe because we refused to step up and defend it when it was *way back there* so it's crept forward and it's here inside my white picket fence.

I allow discomfort and fear of anger or rejection from sharing my beliefs with others-especially those closest to me. If I believe I am called to share the Good News and stand up for my faith--which I do--what is holding me back?


That four letter 'F' word that gets stuck in my throat on an hourly basis.

I am afraid, y'all.

Afraid of rejection from those I love.
Afraid of looking like a hypocrite
Afraid of coming across like a know-it-all
Afraid of confrontation
Afraid of hurting the feelings of someone I care about
Afraid of failing in my desire to do the right thing
Afraid of being wrong and completely misjudging a situation


And I hate it. I watch people make the biggest mistakes and turn their backs on things they professed to care about--and leaving a storm in their wake-- and I am paralyzed. Frozen. I'm so afraid of hurting their feelings or making them mad that I will watch them blindly, willingly and sometimes brazenly walk into a bear trap. All while I smile and cheer them on.

And I'm to afraid to have the conversation. Not the "Oh my gosh Becky those pants make you look fat..." conversation. I mean the "Who are you and what do you stand for?" conversation. The "You aren't living the way you've always professed to believe" conversation. The "what example are you setting and what message are you sending?" conversation.

And the thing isn't on my shoulders to enforce anything with people. Or to change them. But if it's on my heart and on my mind twenty-four-seven (which it is) it is my responsibility to share what I am feeling. In love and lovingly. What they do with that info is up to them. And their choice.

And most importantly, I need to be mindful of what kind of fruit I'm bearing. Meaning, what kind of life am I living and what decisions am I making? Am I robbing banks on weekends, but preaching in church on Sundays? Do I beat my kids at home, but lead my brownie troupe and teach parenting classes? Am I talking about my friends behind their backs but blogging about the importance of friendship and convictions? Am I spending time in a comedy club where "funny" is vulgar and demeaning and then smiling at all my "church" friends on Sunday morning?

And I need to check why it's so important for me to tell others how I'm feeling. Is it because I want to be 'right' and point out a believed flaw to them? Or is it because I care about them?

These are hard questions. And I struggle with some of the above scenarios (NOT the 'beating my kids' one...or the robbing a bank one...FYI).

Can we reclaim our world and this country or is it too late? Are we too far gone? At what point do we shake the dust off our sandals and move on? And will my sandals ever stop being stuck in the mud?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just Don't Call Me Chubby

It's March.

It's 70 degrees.

it's G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S outside.

And I am a bloated mess.

I mentioned in my last post that I am measuring "big." Meaning: my belly is measuring over 3 cm larger than I am weeks along. Instead of measuring 22 cm at my last OB appointment, I measured at 26. Yowza.

The doctor was not very forthcoming or worried about why I could be measuring big, so I Googled all the possible reasons on my own. I could have excess fluid, I could just have gained too much weight, the baby could be laying funny, or I could be having more than one baby.

I'm pretty sure I'm not having multiples (and wouldn't that be a hoot and just the thing to officially send us over the edge--or at least get us our own show? Hmm....)

It's very possible I'm just fat. :)

I gained 10 lbs in the past week.

I think there is a healthy chance I have excess fluid.

And I know this baby likes to lay funny because I already feel like he's crowning with every step I take.

So...I'm not worried.

But I am very uncomfortable.

For reals.

These are the feelings that usually come at the end of the pregnancy (or at least in the third trimester.)

I'm not even 6 months yet and I didn't think I was going to make it up the mountain hill to get my kids from school today. Seriously, I had a cramp that wouldn't quit and thought I was going to have to call someone to come and get me. I was a half a block from home. :-/

I have a taste of what Lance Armstrong must have felt as he eyed the last leg of the Tour de France.

Sadly, I don't seem to be sporting the "cute" baby bump that so many do at this stage. Mine is more like 2 fat rolls, one on top of the other. Not as adorable in those super tight maternity shirts that I used to love to wear at 6, 7 & 8 months.

As for the last post and the SMALL chance that this baby could have Down Syndrome....we are not worried.

I am not stressed in the least. Well, not beyond my usual neurotic obsessive anxiety that I have about everything. But that goes without saying.

We are not over-thinking this.

For one, the chance is SO SMALL that this little guy will have Trisomy-21 that we simply don't feel it is a likelihood.

For another, even if God did choose to allow us to have a child with special needs, we will still consider that an enormous blessing and love him with all of our hearts.

That was never a question in our minds.

If the God of the Universe--the God who we believe to be all knowing--chooses to bless us with a baby that has an extra chromosome, who are we to question, fret over, or regret that?

We believe all things happen for a reason and all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Phew. Didn't intend to get so heavy there. Must be the hormones. :)

And now I'm off to finish making the other 5 dinner. For some odd reason, they DEMAND to be fed several times throughout the day??

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Little Anxiety

I had my 22 week OB appointment today. It went much better than my last appointment. I didn't share that here because I needed some time to digest it. And maybe to be in denial a little bit.

We had our ultrasound at week 18. I saw my OB the next day and he went over the results (which we were assured were fine by the ultrasound technician.) Baby looked great, was measuring appropriately and all was well.

So Joe stayed home with the littlest 2 while I went to my appointment by myself. My OB (this burly, Italian, fatherly figure who has delivered the past 3 of our 5 babies...and whom we LOVE) chit chatted with me, glanced over my chart and said, "Oh, we got your ultrasound results back. *Some incoherent mumbling* "Yeah...there's this one thing here I have to go over with you..." and then proceeded to listen to the baby's heartbeat, measure my belly and talk about the weather.

Finally, nearly hyperventilating, I said, "Okay, Are you ready to tell me what you have to tell me since I'm trying not to have a heart attack over here?"

He then explained that the ultrasound indicated a "soft marker" based on the ventricles on the left side of the baby's heart...the "soft marker" could be an indicator of Trisomy 21, or Down's Syndrome.

It was at that point that I stopped listening, stopped breathing.

All I heard was 'Down's.'

I swear I made him repeat the information about 3 times because I just couldn't "get" what he was saying.

What I do remember is that it was a .02% chance that the baby does have Down's. But because I'm 34 and riding the edge of that 35 and older line, he had to tell me. Being 34 (and so close to 35) automatically puts me in a higher risk category.

I left the appointment with some options: have an amnio (which the doc did not recommend), have the triple screen done (which we declined and typically do decline), or ask for genetic counseling at the hospital.

I calmed myself down the whole drive home and gave myself a pep talk that it was such a slim chance-there was nothing to get upset about. I couldn't fall apart when I told Joe because I didn't want to freak him out.

So, I calmly walked in the front door. Joe casually asked me how it went. And I...broke down in sobs and tried to get the info out as best I could as Joe started at me wide-eyed and terrified. I don't know how much of what I said he actually understood the first time.

I caught my breath, he hugged me. :) And then I was able to calm down to tell him what the doctor said.

We both decided that an amnio was out of the question, the triple screen was not an option (for us) because it could indicate a higher risk percentage, and still not be definitive, but could only serve to scare the daylights out of us more...and the truth is...knowing 'definitively' would only do one thing: prepare us somewhat for a child with special needs. It would not change our mind about whether or not to continue the pregnancy.

So, pan forward to today's visit. It was much nicer.

I was a little nervous.

But everything went well.

The baby is low. So low that I thought the doc was going to have to find his heartbeat in my toes.

And...I'm measuring "big." My belly is measuring at 26 when I am only 22+ weeks along and should be measuring the same as I am weeks along.

Hmmm...maybe there IS an extra little one hiding in there. ;)

The moral we've learned here is that we'll try not to overreact. We'll trust God to lead us and not give us more than we can handle. He's been pretty true to that so far.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slow Down And Taste The Egg

Today was a good one.

It was almost 70 degrees and sunny (for part of the day at least.)

I got to steal away to Target BY MYSELF and buy those things that I usually avoid and feel guilty buying...a hair dryer, a curling iron, some hair do-dads, etc.

I strolled the aisles slowly, unrushed, and actually remembered every thing I went in for.

There was no yelling, threatening, scolding, fishing kids out of racks, breaking up fights in the cart, denying the one millionth plea for a  toy...none of that.

Then...after I paid and shut myself in my quiet van (without buckling 400 kids in their seats) I sat. Just sat. I bought myself a guilty pleasure at the checkout: a Diet Coke and a Cadbury Egg. I sat in the parking lot and enjoyed that Egg. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh how I enjoyed it all; the egg, the drink and the silence, the lack of agenda and demands. It was nearly a Rated R moment.

It's been nice taking a few days after my last post to think about things. I started a study by Beth Moore--one of my very favorite Christian women. I always have such clarity from her studies.

Mostly what I'm hearing from God right now is to be still and listen. Listen. That's not something I always do well or willingly. Maybe I'm one of those people that doesn't like "awkward" silence. Maybe I just don't know when to take my cue to let silence happen. Or let the other person talk.

But I'm trying to learn that.

I thought talking was a challenge-especially in front of group, but--for me--being quiet is far more of a challenge. It involves patience and governing the tongue...two things I usually lack.

Instead of running at the mouth about what was bothering me in the last post, I am contemplating. I'm weighing and measuring my thoughts and motives to see what's real, what's valid, and what's legitimate.

It's kind of nice. Refreshing. It's also a total pain in the arse. Patience is not really my thing.

But, with this new way of being, I'm learning to enjoy more, and savor that sweet Cadbury egg today.

Normally, I would have gulped it down, looking at the clock, afraid I was taking too long and rushing home to relieve Joe of his solo responsibilities with the kids.

This "Southern" way of living may grow on me yet.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

{WO}Man In The Mirror

I think one of my many, many flaws...and one that always gets me into that I tend to see people the way I think they are. I know that can't be helped to a certain point, after all I can only perceive things in one way-my way. But with me, I think I assume something about someone and then I look for corroborating evidence to prove that assumption right. And I usually don't realize I'm way off base until it's too late.

I'm famous for this.

It's frustrating and can have some really serious consequences.

It's like the honeymoon phase of a relationship--we tend to ignore or are blind to those things that should raise a flag or--at least-- annoy us enough to tell us, "pay attention to this--you won't be able to live with this later." Or "This is going to be detrimental to you or them or your relationship later..."

I think an old street-beaten cop would call this a *hunch.*

And I just don't always listen to my hunches.

But I'm starting to.

I think I'm being called to make some changes within myself and it's scary.

I hate change and I especially hate painful or hard change.

I've tried in the past with my weight, but this is a different, far more important kind of change. I need to change my insides.

I feel God calling me to get the crap out of my life so that I can see things clearer. You know the verse that says to get the plank out of your own eye before you worry about the speck in your brother's? Yeah. That kind of change.

I see a lot of specks that I feel burdened to address, but I don't think I'm in a place to do that the way I'm supposed to--lovingly and in good conscience--if I am blinded by this 2x4 in my own eye.

Sometimes living in this world feels awful. With all of the good, the bad is often so suffocating. The older I get (and maybe a smidge wiser) I realize just how ensnared and confused most people are. Nothing is easy or simple. And people are always so willing to put their own spin on things-especially "right" and "wrong" and some people are so intellectual and articulate that they will spend an eternity convinced--and convincing others--that they know more and understand better than others. Some people think that if you talk at someone long enough and "get down on their level"--very insulting I might add--that eventually you too will have your eyes opened and see that they are "right."

No matter how *nice* a person is, if they are totally lost in their thinking, yet intelligent enough to convince themselves and others that their's is the correct/valid/right way of thinking/believing...they are dangerous. I have been in contact with too many people like this--whether they intend to be this way or not--to pretend I don't get that gut feeling when I do.

And I have it in spades right now.

I have for a while, but confrontation is never pleasant. Especially if you feel like you're alone in a sea of conformity.

John 15:18 kept going through my mind last night: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first."

Speaking the truth in a place where someone doesn't want to hear it is usually a sticky situation. And--I think worse--speaking the truth to someone when they believe they have a corner on the truth is hard, at best. And you have to consider, "Is it worth it?" 

Will it be falling on deaf ears? Are they open to hearing you?  Will it only add fuel to the fire? Is it better to keep quiet or is it your obligation to speak the truth in light of someone's blatant and obvious misunderstanding/misalignment of the truth? And the fact that they are leading others down that path with their charisma and intelligence?

I dunno. Still trying to figure that one out. 

Maybe we are obligated to speak the long as we wait for direction from God for the right timing and the right words.

And when do you know if it's the right time?? Arrrgh?!

SO there it is...I'm sure it doesn't make sense, but it's kept me up all night. It's not as fun as board and batten or as funny as some of the other things I post about, but it's consuming my thinking right now. 

And now it can wiggle around in your head too. ;)
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